On March 25th KCRS trustees attended, by conference call, a "Pre=Approval Meeting" with Home Office staff and representatives of Kingston Council.
The Home Office staff explained that all refugee resettlement flights have been temporarily suspended by UNHCR until at least mid-April 2020, probably longer. Community Sponsorship groups such as KCRS are advised to continue to work with the Home Office to obtain "approval in principle" for resettling refugee families but to delay securing rental accommodation for them until such time as resettlement flights are resumed.
KCRS was complimented on producing a good resettlement plan and asked to make only a small number of amendments and additions in order to gain approval in principle.
We have to
  • put in writing in our plan that we will not display the family name on welcome signs when meeting them at the airport
  • include in our safeguarding policy some consideration of how to protect refugees against being drawn into organised crime
  • provide an estimate of the likely cost of providing interpreter services
  • obtain approval of our safeguarding policy from the local child safeguarding department
We are proceeding with these requirements and will keep our members updated on further progress.
It is looking very likely that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be some delay before we can welcome our first refugee family to Kingston. This, of course, remains our firm ambition and it was reassuring to hear from the Home Office that the resettlement schemes are expected to resume at some point.
12:47, 14 Apr 2020 by vince daly